Thousands gathered at the Green Strip in Kenai for free food and games as the community celebrated Industry Appreciation Day.
The big three industries on the Kenai Peninsula, Petroleum, Tourism, and Commercial Fishing, were celebrated last week at Industry Appreciation Day, a tradition that was started 14 years ago by a couple of Nikiski residents, Jack Brown and Aaron Goforth. “My co-founder and friend Aaron Goforth passed away this year so this year we presented the family with a special plaque in honor of his effort to create this event. He loved industry and felt we needed to show our community appreciation for all that they do to sustain our quality of life,” said Brown. While no official count was made it was estimated that over 5,000 visitors turned out under clear blue skies for a final, free summer fling. Games included the Pink Salmon toss, set net round haul, frozen t-shirt contest, drawings for bicycles, and live music throughout the day.
A youngster eyeballs a frozen salmon before tossing it in the Industry Appreciation Day Toss a Pink contest.
A shivering 13-year-old May Gillis of Nikiski took home a new bike for his success at being the first kid to be able to pull on a frozen t-shirt, and Kenai Mayor Pat Porter won the grand prize drawing for two free tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. “Nothing like that had ever happened to me before and I was so surprised I needed to think about which non-profit I wanted to donate them back to, but after a lot of thought I decided that the United Way of the Kenai Peninsula would be the best place to give those two tickets as they are about to embark on their fall campaign kick-off and I hope they’ll raise a lot of money that will go to benefit 26 local non-profit organizations,” said Porter adding that the contributions of industry and their employees to United Way is a major reason we have such successful campaigns year after year.
Governor Sarah Palin addresses the Republican Women's Club at the Merit Inn in Kenai after visiting Industry Appreciation Day.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski also pointed out that industry contributes more than just dollars and jobs to a community, “When you think about how those within the various industries turn around and give back to our communities it’s what makes our communities what they are. Whether it’s through coaching, Boys & Girls clubs, or helping out at school or their church, the people that are involved with these industries and their related fields that make up the Kenai Peninsula are our friends, neighbors, and the people that we love. So to take one day out of the year on a sunny Saturday to say thank you is really the least that we can do,” Murkowski told the Dispatch.
Governor Sarah Palin took the occasion of Industry Appreciation Day to sign a significant and symbolic piece of legislation into law, “The Alaska Railroad has a lot of potential development in mind and this new legislation will allow bonding for projects to come on line, and with Agrium and some of the great needs that we have here on the Peninsula the railroad expansion should lead to more progress and development that will ultimately result in more good jobs for Alaskans. Of course all these projects will receive a great deal of public input before going forward,” said Governor Palin. The Governor also said that she was impressed with the fact that Industry Appreciation Day was the community saying thank you for the quality of life provided by industry, “It’s so neat that there’s no ask here from industry it’s the community saying we appreciate industry and what it contributes to our economy and families. Of course, personally I’m appreciative because my husband has been a North Slope worker all these years and that has certainly benefited our family and that’s where I’m coming from by recognizing the benefits that come from strong healthy diversified development that industry provides the state and I want other families to have those benefits also,” added Palin.
Governor Palin also took the occasion to visit with constituents at a reception hosted by the Republican Women’s Club of the Kenai Peninsula at the Merit Inn. Among those singled out for special recognition at this year’s Industry Appreciation Day was Chuck Robinson, chosen to receive the Don Gilman community service award for his superior performance and dedication to the Kenai Peninsula, Dale Haines was selected, as the outstanding individual for the oil and gas industry, and ConocoPhillips as the outstanding oil and gas company. Alaska Wildland Adventures won the award for outstanding business in tourism, and Kenai River Seafoods was chosen as outstanding fish processor. Lyndon Transport was given an award as the best industry support organization.
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